When I gripe about Alan being home all I hear is "Enjoy it! They grow up so fast!" Well, I have some news for you parents of "typical" kids -- he doesn't! Having Alan home is a lot like having a pet gorilla. He is somewhat trainable, communicates basic wants and needs but weighs over 150 lbs and is hard to take in public.
Don't get me wrong, I love my sons very much ... but they are EXHAUSTING! My favorite day of the year is the first day of school. When I think about the fact that Alan may never leave home, I want to cry! When a baby is born you have so many hopes and dreams for him or her. Those don't just vanish when you get a diagnosis!
I would love to have family movie nights, but there are no movies that all four of us will watch.
I would love to be able to go to a restaurant and sit down with both my boys and relax and enjoy someone waiting on me. Any idea what a restaurant is like with a pet gorilla? We have to be ready to order as soon as the waiter first comes to the table because Alan can only wait so long. We have to eat relatively quickly because frequently one of us has to take him out to the car while the other one stays behind with Joe and pays.
I would love for family vacations at the beach to be the way they were pre-kids -- lie in the sun, read a book, maybe take a nap, play in the waves. Any ideas what vacation is like with my pet gorilla? Last vacation he tried to climb off our third floor balcony on to the one below. He gets in the ocean and just starts swimming for the horizon. Yes, I am thrilled he is a good swimmer, but that doesn't mean I trust him to know when he is getting tired and come back so one of us has to swim out with him and convince him to come back in to the shallow water. That fun task usually falls to DH because he is taller than me. Forget flying with a pet gorilla -- what if he freaks out on the plane? That means any trip must be within reasonable driving distance.
I already described what holidays are like with a pet gorilla. But what about just getting together with friends? We have some very good friends that do not have any children but do have dogs. We usually cannot talk Joe into going over there because of the dogs. On the other hand we almost never are invited to anyone else's house. Nobody wants a pet gorilla to visit!
Many couples I know go away for weekends and have grandma and grandpa come and stay. Uh, no. Not too many 70-80 year olds can handle a pet gorilla!
What about going to church together? Nope. The last time all four of us went was Christmas of 1999. That is a lot of separate services.
For Joe's graduation, for my niece's wedding, for an aunt's funeral ... you name it, we need a babysitter because my pet gorilla can not attend. Heck, we have to get a babysitter for our monthly date nights. We have two teenagers! We should be able to just go out for our anniversary (or whatever) and leave the boys at home, but we can't. So don't tell me that I should enjoy this time. I love my boys but caring for a pet gorilla is very tiring and I am truly looking forward to the day he goes back to school!